A Moment for Mission
"O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving." —Psalm 95:1-2a, NRSV
As United Methodists observe UMCOR Sunday on March 22, they will assist communities in Puerto Rico still reeling from a recent series of earthquakes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, more than 500 earthquakes of magnitude 2 or greater struck the area in December 2019 and January 2020.
"The aftermath of this is going to be much bigger than we can imagine," said Gusmary Blanco Mersie, the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico's social media director.
The Methodist Church of Puerto Rico is dealing with the situation through its own disaster-response organization and through partnership with the United Methodist Committee on Relief. UMCOR awarded a solidarity grant to help with immediate needs.
Experience gained from the Hurricane Maria recovery has been an asset in this response, said Glorymar Rivera-Báez, program director for disaster recovery with Rebuilding Communities with Hope (REHACE). Rivera-Báez was in touch with UMCOR's U.S. Disaster Response team immediately after the earthquakes began.
"Although this is a time of great hardship, one positive aspect is that we already had a strong disaster response system in place…, plus we have an ongoing relationship with UMCOR," she explained.
"Our duty right now," said Bishop Hector F. Ortiz, episcopal leader of the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico, "is to provide all the support, help and hope we can to our communities."
Generous gifts through the UMCOR Sunday offering help to ensure that UMCOR can respond wherever and whenever a disaster occurs.
—Adapted from "Puerto Rican Methodists Tackle Earthquake Response," Dan Curran, UM News, Jan. 20, 2020. Used by permission.
Loving God, we are thankful for our church's disaster -response through UMCOR. May we show our gratitude by giving generously so that this work can continue. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Third Sunday in Lent – God of Boundless Goodness: We have come to this place this day to worship you with our songs, with our words, with our gifts, and with our whole hearts. Our reading and heeding of the psalms reconnect us to worship that springs from a heart full of gratitude. Use these gifts as part of our praise, and use them in mission in this world so that even those who feel lost and unloved will know they have a God who loves each of them dearly. With praise and thanksgiving, we lift these prayers! Amen. (Psalm 95)
Newtok, a Yu'pik village in Alaska, has lost much of its land and some houses to rising sea levels and eroding coastline. The United Methodist Committee on Relief is partnering with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the National Tribal Water Center to provide Portable Alternative Sanitation Systems for Newtok. The whole community is moving in stages to Mertarvik, Alaska, further inland, within the territory their ancestors knew as a summer home.
UMCOR—through its Water, Sanitation and Hygiene or WASH program—already has provided in-home sanitation systems for 21 new homes in Mertarvik. Meanwhile, Newtok residents are still hauling out their wastewater, raising health risks.
Lorrie King, UMCOR's director of Sustainable Development, recently visited the two communities, old and new, to assess the progress.
"It's the difference between night and day," she said. "You see the new beautiful houses and the PASS units in every house. That's life changing for the residents."
Through generous giving to UMCOR, hope is born. Thank you!
—Adapted from "UMCOR Provides Home-sanitation Units for Alaska's Yu'pik Community," Christie R. House, Dec. 13, 2019. Used by permission.